The External Cheese

I went over the menu cheese moving earlier, now it's time to talk about the external side of things. You know, buttons, knobs, and dials.

This is a trickier proposition. Nikon made a number of adjustments and changes in the D5 generation, so do I describe differences from the D5/D500, or from the D810? 

Let's get the D5 generation stuff out of the way:

  • ISO button behind the shutter release instead of Mode (moves to top left cluster)
  • Red record movie button shifts to the inferior position behind the shutter release
  • Addition of an Fn2 button
  • Addition of a focus control joystick
  • Removal of the AE-L/AF-L button

The good news is that Nikon's been consistent about this on the D5, D500, and now D850. There is no additional cheese moving between models, thank goodness. Well, okay, some really slight things: the D500's front function buttons are positioned a little differently, but that's partly because Nikon is packing more into a smaller body.

To a D810 user, though, the big non-generational changes would be the repositioning of the i and info buttons, and the changes to which connectors are under which rubber doors on the left side of the camera. The Direction pad also gets a bit smaller and moves lower on the rear, probably because of the joystick inclusion. 

We've lost the onboard flash, so we also lose the flash release button and the Autofocus Assist lamp, which now just becomes the self timer and remote operation light.  

If you care, the microphone and speaker positions completely changed. The built-in stereo mics are now on the sides of the viewfinder, while the speaker is now up above the rear LCD instead of to the right of it. Likewise, the Card Write Indicator lamp has moved position some, too.

Overall, though, none of this results in any functional issues that I can see, other than the addition of the D5 generation stuff. That's the way I think such changes really should occur, rather than the model-by-model migration of things we've gotten a few times in Nikon's DSLR history. 

So overall I'm happy with the cheese that was moved, and the cheese that was left in place. Better still, I can move between the D5, D500, and D850 cameras without much in the way of cognitive dissonance interrupting my train of photographic thought. The one weirdly in this: the XQD and SD slots are reversed between the D500 and D850. The D500 has stacked XQD on top, the D850 has offset XQD on bottom. I can live with that, but is a bit strange that the bigger camera seemed to have more troubles fitting in two slots than the smaller one.

But—you knew there had to be a but, right?—all is not perfect in the D810 to D850 migration. The vertical grip required is completely different, and if you've got D810 tailored Arca Swiss plates, you'll need new ones. Everywhere I look on the D850 there are subtle shape differences. The D850 is a bit boxier and upright in design than the slanty shapes you find in many areas on the D810. 

text and images © 2018 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2017 Thom Hogan-- All Rights Reserved
Follow us on Twitter: @bythom, hashtags #bythom, #dslrbodies